Oakland church

Love has no Borders – Charlotte’s Refugee Story

As a faith community, we believe that migration and the need to seek asylum are sacred acts of faith.  As people of faith we believe that God is with the migrant, the refugee,  and we are called to welcome them. 
We are living in a season when the threats to unity are many. Talks of walls that mark refugees as threats, overt racial bias that normalizes fear and hatred, a pandemic of abuse to women, and to LGBTQ people have made it harder and harder to recognize our faith. It is one thing to read about their experiences. It is another to meet someone who’s lived through it. 
This Sunday, March 10th, the first Sunday in Lent, we are pleased to welcome  Charlotte to our service, a courageous trans woman who fled  Honduras because of  fears from death threats.  She sought asylum in the US. She was held in a detention center for months, under horrible conditions. Join us to hear Charlotte’s story, meet her lawyer, and learn more how we can provide support as people of faith. 

Charlotte and her legal assistant, Elaina Vermeulen,  will be presenting her story as part of worship. In addition, we will be gathering after worship for an extended conversation about the plight of refugees from Central America, the current conditions in detention centers, especially for trans people, and what we can do to advocate for them.  

Elaina Vermeulen the Transgender Detention Release Specialist for the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, where she organizes advocacy groups, service providers and community members nationally to create networks of support and sponsorship for transgender asylum seekers detained in Cibola County Correctional Center and South Texas Detention Facility. Within this role, Elaina was responsible for directing on-the-ground legal accompaniment and services for the LGBTQIA+ exodus in November 2018.

Elaina also works the Post Release Accompaniment Project Coordinator at Centro Legal de la Raza. Within this role, she works with detained immigrants seeking asylum and other forms of relief from deportation before the Immigration Courts and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. She co-coordinates the Post Release Accompaniment Project to secure the release of eligible, detained immigrants on bond and parole from Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield, CA.

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